Do you have a washing machine that likes to eat socks? Do you feel like you’re always finding mismatched socks? I do and luckily I have a little girl who is quite happy to wear mismatched socks making my life much easier. However, I had never thought of mismatched socks as being something that might actually help my child learn something. Or help build empathy and morality.
Enter Pals socks whose question to me when they first approached me for this review was, “Can mismatched socks put an end to racism?” “Huh?!” was my initial reply, but I’m so glad I gave them a shot. The socks are – you guessed it – mismatched, but not just as any old design. These socks are designed as “friends”, even unlikely friends. Each sock is different, but they still go together.
As a parent, I thought it was a great way to talk about these issues with my daughter (though we do talk about them regularly as may be evident below) and for families who don’t know how to bring up some of these more sensitive topics, this could be exactly what’s needed. After all, it’s easy to talk about how a dog and cat are friends and how we can also be friends with people that are different than us. It’s easy to look at two seemingly different creatures on the socks and ask kids to find similarities – after all, it’s seeing similarities with others that helps us feel affinity towards them too.
The question was how my daughter would feel about these socks outside of just enjoying them (which she does!) so I thought I’d pose some questions to her to see how she feels about the socks. I have given her answers as close to verbatim as I can (I was a bit slow typing sometimes and had to paraphrase near the end at times) and I think it makes the case that these socks can not only be fun to wear, but can pack a deeper message as well.
Me: Do you think it’s weird your socks don’t match?
Daughter: I don’t really think it’s weird at all because they may not match but they’re friends. They came with each other so I don’t think it’s weird at all. I can have a friend who has brown skin and I have white skin, but that doesn’t make any difference. So people can have friends that are different so a cat and a dog can be friends. Having friends is important, it’s more important than matching.
What would you say to people who say the cat and dog can’t be friends?
You’re wrong. The cat and dog can be friends. They may not be the same thing, but they can be friends. I can be friends with a grown-up, that doesn’t make any difference, because me and the grown up are different things – the grown up is a grown up and I’m a kid so we’re different ages, but we’re both humans and cats and dogs are still both animals. Two animals can be friends like two humans can be friends. Doesn’t matter what size or age you are, just that you’re friends. It’s just important that they aren’t mean and they don’t kidnap you. I’ve seen a real cat and a real dog be friends.
Why are some people not friends with different people?
Maybe they don’t want friends or not ready for friends? A cat and a dog – if they aren’t ready for friends, they don’t have to have friends. As long as they have people looking out for them; when they’re ready for friends, they should probably make some, not just family – like a mom, dad, brother, sister, or two sisters, or two brothers. But if they didn’t have any friends, that would pretty much be a disaster because everyone wants friends.
Is it important to have friends that are different?
It’s your choice – if you want different, you can have different friends, if you don’t want different friends, don’t make friends that are different. If you don’t care, just go ahead and make any friend you want as long as they aren’t mean.
Do you think it’s okay for people to be mean to people because they’re different?
I think you should be nice to people that are different. They might be different, but you don’t get to be mean to them, you should be nice. These are the only people you can be mean to: bad guys. Those are the only ones. Unless there are good guys that kidnap you then you could be mean to them too.
How do we change people’s minds who think it’s okay to be mean to different people?
We should just say that it doesn’t matter if they’re different. If they’re nice to you, be nice back. If they aren’t nice, you should still be nice back.
Do you think the socks can help?
Kinda. (Pause.) Yeah! Because if you have socks that are different, like a turtle and a rabbit, and there are people that are mean to people that are different, you can show them your socks and say, “See it’s a turtle and a rabbit but they’re friends. They’re different, but they’re friends. So you should be nice to people that are nice and not hurt people that are different than you. You should always be respectful and niceful.”
Well, there you have it. From the mouth of a six-year-old. And from the mouth of the 37-year-old, I can say they are also quite cute and have held up after many washes which is always a good thing in my mind!
If you want your own pair of Pals (they do have adult sizes as well), the owner has generously given EP fans a coupon code! Use palsep coupon code on palssocks.com, you will get 15% off your entire order AND free shipping if you live in the USA.